The Biological Concept of Race
A survey, taken in 1985 (Lieberman et al. 1992), asked 1,200 American scientists how many disagree with the following proposition: "There are biological races in the species Homo sapiens:"
Responses to surveys of faculty at Ph.D-granting departments indicate that 67% of biologists accept the concept of biological races in the species Homo sapiens, while only 50% of physical anthropologists do so. Content analysis of college textbooks indicates a significant degree of change over time (1936–1984) in physical anthropology but a lesser degree in biology.
Although, according to the 2000 edition of a popular physical anthropology textbook, forensic anthropologists are overwhelmingly in support of the idea of the basic biological reality of human races. Forensic physical anthropologist and professor George W. Gill said:
"The idea that race is only skin deep is simply not true, as any experienced forensic anthropologist will affirm. The complete denial of the opposing evidence seems to stem largely from socio-political motivation and not science at all.
Not one introductory textbook of physical anthropology even presents that perspective as a possibility. In a case as flagrant as this, we are not dealing with science but rather with blatant, politically motivated censorship.”
Causations for the decline in the acceptance of race?
Race After WWII:
Prior to, and especially after, the Second World War, a number of anthropologists questioned the scientific value of the concept, initiating a debate over ‘the existence of human races’. Research suggests that the debate has still not been resolved, as significant differences exist among anthropologists from different countries and regions of the world. In some places the concept of race seems to be falling out of favour (e.g., the USA and Western Europe), while in others it is generally accepted (e.g., China and Eastern Europe).
The Status of the Race Concept in Contemporary Biological Anthropology: A Review
- Scientists have been discouraged from using the term "race:"
The editors of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine asked authors to "not use race and ethnicity in research published in the ARCHIVES:"
Nature Genetics now ask authors to “explain why they make use of particular ethnic groups or populations, and how classification was achieved:”
- The civil rights movements:
Liberman et al. (1992) examined 77 college textbooks in biology and 69 in physical anthropology published between 1932 and 1989. Physical anthropology texts argued that biological races exist until the 1970s, when they began to argue that races do not exist. In contrast, biology textbooks never underwent such a reversal but instead dropped their discussion of race altogether.
Morning (2008) looked at high school biology textbooks during the 1952-2002 period and initially found a similar pattern with only 35% directly discussing race in the 1983–92 period from initially 92% doing so:
Although, Gissis (2008) examined several important American and British journals in genetics, epidemiology and medicine for their content during the 1946-2003 period. He wrote that:
"Based upon my findings I argue that the category of race only seemingly disappeared from scientific discourse after World War II and has had a fluctuating yet continuous use during the time span from 1946 to 2003, and has even become more pronounced from the early 1970s on.”
Suggesting that after the post-WWII period discussion of the biological reality of race was restored, but remains a taboo topic post-WWII.
Race is genetic clustering:
Each point is an individual, and the axes are two principal components in the space of genetic variation. Colors correspond to individuals of different European ancestry.
- Swedes and Norwegians can be distinguished with 90 percent accuracy (Table 4)
- The chance of mis-identifying a European as an African or E. Asian is exponentially small (Table 5)